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Mink River

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  5,802 ratings  ·  1,259 reviews
Like Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood" and Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio, " Brian Doyle's stunning fiction debut brings a town to life through the jumbled lives and braided stories of its people.

In a small fictional town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and

Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Oregon State University Press
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Steve Garriott William Blake, 19th century "English poet, painter, and printmaker."
There are no dumb questions; I make a living asking them :)…more
William Blake, 19th century "English poet, painter, and printmaker."
There are no dumb questions; I make a living asking them :)(less)
Vanessa Ratjen It's similar in the sense that it intertwines different stories in a small town. However, Mink River is through many different lenses and doesn't labe…moreIt's similar in the sense that it intertwines different stories in a small town. However, Mink River is through many different lenses and doesn't label one person as the centre of the story, rather the town itself is the story. (In Olive Kitteridge it's centring around her). With that in mind, it is similar in the idea that it's a collection of people over time sharing lives together and doesn't have a traditional arc with a pointed climax and resolution as some more traditional books may have. Hope that helps!?(less)

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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  5,802 ratings  ·  1,259 reviews

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4.5 stars

"Sometimes I think that all people in all times must have had the same joys and sorrows... Everyone thinks that the old days were better, or that they were harder, and that modern times are chaotic and complex, or easier all around, but I think people’s hearts have always been the same, happy and sad, and that hasn’t changed at all. It’s just the shape of lives that change, not lives themselves."

This beautifully lyrical, captivating novel is unlike anything I can recall having read befo
Carla Perry
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The language, the writing style, the people, the philosophy? All great. I can't help but cry. I'm crying for the people in the book who died, who were lost, who were injured. I'm crying because not everyone dies when they could have. I'm crying because some people heal. Because some children heal. And because some people get to have love, give love, remain in love, which is so beautiful to walk among, my footsteps causing no distraction. I'm crying, too, because for some there is no love. I now ...more
Nov 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I haven't enjoyed a book this much in sooooooo long! Set in a tiny coastal Oregon town, this story is populated with characters who seem to leap off the page and speak their lines directly into your ear: they are that real. Brian Doyle breaks all the "good writing" rules, yet this book is rich and layered and beautiful and profound. Riotous and complex, Doyle's lush tale compels you to read faster than you'd like, because you can't stand not knowing just what the heck is going to happen here. Ev ...more
I thought this was going to be a bit chaotic, but it wasn't. It was certainly the best read of 2020 so far.

Moses the Crow, with his mouthy wisdoms and his courage, got me going page after page after page, and he wasn't the main character at all. Mmmm...wait... perhaps he was, after all.

He mourned the death of the elderly nun who rescued him and taught him to communicate. He adored psalms. Sometimes he maneuvered a few new moves while flying, just to feel like an eagle or something else that mig
David Pace
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I meant to write a review of the sprawling novel of America’s Oregon Coast, Mink River by Brian Doyle over Thanksgiving, because it was what I was grateful for. As the year ends, I realize I’m thinking about it still. Grateful for it, still.

Doyle’s narrative style is off-putting (at first), but eventually one that wins you over by sheer earnestness. The narrative is episodic and, what you would call in the dramatic arts, an ensemble piece. If there is a protagonist it is the town of 500 resident
Oct 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Neawanaka is a fictitious town on the Oregon coast, and this book is filled with short chapters/vignettes telling brief interludes about the various residents and their day to day lives.

If this hadn't been my book club's monthly pick, I probably never have picked up the book and I definitely would not have finished it. I had a very difficult time getting into this, and half the time I felt myself skimming because nothing was happening. The story is definitely more about the town than about any
Julie Christine
How very sublime. Mink River has flowed in and out of my life several times over the years. I've had other copies in my possession; twice they have gone away with friends and never returned. I've known for years how beloved this book is to so many readers and I think I feared that I wouldn't be as captivated, or that I'd even dislike it with the intensity reserved for highly-lauded books that you just don't get, so I kept putting it off.

A few weeks ago a friend pressed another copy into my hand
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: Joan Winnek
This is a novel unlike any other I've read before I think, even though for awhile I was reminded of Jon McGregor, especially pertaining to some stylistic tics (e.g., lists and no quotation marks for dialogue), an omniscient viewpoint and at times this view being one of a bird's-eye -- literally, at least in this book.

A couple of the characters quote William Blake and another reads the Acts of the Apostles, some of his thoughts intermingling, and in a King-James style, as he does. The language is
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
well, now wasn't that delicious? ...more
Judith E
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I haven't had this much fun reading a book since I was a teenager and discovered John Irving. Because, when the death scene between a crow and a nun is so beautiful. And when lists are refreshing, educational, funny, and lyrical. And then, when you are given permission not to "worry about coherence and shape and narrative style", then you know you have a great book. This goes on my favorites shelf. ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book that illustrates what is meant by “grace” and the “sacramentality of the ordinary”. Set in a small coastal town, the stories of several graced characters, of their Native American and Irish ancestors, of the non-human creatures are woven together in a pattern of simple, but stunning beauty. Read aloud, this could easily be mistaken for poetry. At times, I wondered if the characters and place was only an interesting canvas on which the author could paint in language. Depe ...more
May 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-choice
I gave my book club a hard time about this choice and, frankly, I was really rude about it - blowing into the group an hour late and I'd only read half the book. I probably broke every book club etiquette rule there is and I apologize. Now that I've finished the book, I was perhaps a bit too tough on it in my spoken comments.

There are many things I actually liked: the talking crow, the residents of the town especially Worried Man and Cedar, how depression is described and "brains against pain."
4.5 stars. This is a tremendous read. It is about life in a small town, but not just any small town. A town with a bit of magic. But not in the elves and wizards sense. We know Mother Nature possesses her own unique magic, because it is all around us, and if we're at all tuned in, it can't help but bowl us over every now and then. In this book though, that magical essence is highlighted and becomes an important part of the story. This is what set this book apart, for me.

So the setting becomes i
Hank Lentfer
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As I awaited delivery of Mink River, anticipation grew like a kid’s count-down to Christmas. I had visions of a story rambling (unencumbered by such pesky details as punctuation) into all the perfect places. So, image my disappointment when, all those bike trips to the post office later, the first copy arrived and I sliced the box open before taking off my helmet, cracked the cover and read those first short, chopped sentences. To think Brian Doyle, one of my favorite authors, had caved so quick ...more
Mar 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
A crow on the cover? An Oregon story? Hot damn, was I ever excited! Maybe if I could have gotten used to the work moving between an epic poem and traditional novel, sometimes in the midst of a thought, I might have made it to the end, for it certainly had some lovely and inspiring moments. As it was, it just made me nuts.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's about nothing & everything. Storytelling at its finest. Completely gorgeous. I loved it.

(If you read & enjoy this book, I think you'd also enjoy Galore by Michael Crummey.)
Joan Winnek
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Joan by: Gilda

I finished reading this book on kindle and have now bought the paperback edition to reread for my book club. We will discuss it on January 11.

Words fail me: I can't find a way to describe the experience of reading Mink River. As I read I knew I would read it again and again.

January 1, 2013
I started rereading Mink River today.

January 3
Finished first section. This time I'm keeping a list of characters and noticing more carefully the handling of time.

January 10
Finished rereading, with enormous ap
Terry Brooks
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This month I am recommending MINK RIVER by Brian Doyle. I heard Brian speak at an author even on the Oregon Coast last fall and I was blown away by his presentation. Part performance artist, part wild man, part actor and seer, he was the most exciting writer I have seen in a long time. So I read his book. It is about Native Americans living in the tiny community of Mink River, a crow who not only speaks but saves the day, a bear that helps carry out the wounded and so many other poetic and wonde ...more
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Mink River" is a novel that I alternated between loving and being irritated by at various points while reading it. The language and unique syntax that Brian Doyle employs is wonderfully evocative. It is simply gorgeous at moments. However, it is not enough to sustain 319 pages, and after a while because the plot is so simple (not a bad thing) it starts to grate on the nerves. Mr. Doyle's use of adjectives gets a little carried away at times. In fact, I found it downright tedious, and thought th ...more
Dacia Grayber
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Mink River"... where do I begin? This book is the reason I joined goodreads, after reading a review of it here. It's been a while since a book moved me so deeply that I had to momentarily pause to put it down, breathe deeply, and revel in the absolute swell of feeling that washed over me.

I found this book at Cloud and Leaf in Manzanita, OR, the weekend I got married in the pouring rain and thick salty air.. so perhaps I was primed for this tale of a small coastal OR village and the characters
LeeAnn Heringer
I resisted this book. Everyone raved about it, it was on everyone's best books of 2011 lists, the book is about a place where my family is from, where I've wandered. How could it live up to the hype?

But then it did. If anything it exceeded my expectations. in a lyrical long-song of the dreams and visions of a small town on the Oregon coast over a single summer. I've heard the complaint that this book is about nothing, but this is a book that thinks so deeply about the meaning of time and how peo
Michael Twist
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Brian Doyle’s MINK RIVER is a masterpiece. It is rare to find a novel that consists of writing that steals the show; by that, I mean sentences so well/beautifully crafted that they become the focus rather than the advancement of the plot. I found myself initially unconcerned with where the story was going because each sentence became the heart of the artichoke rather than a means to an end. I suspect most writers are fortunate to cobble together a truly brilliant sentence each day. Doyle floats
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It was so imaginative and unusual. Full of impossible characters that won my heart. Lots to think about, so many layers. I enjoyed all the run-on sentences and the mixing of thought processes and the languages and just everything. This Brian Doyle guy can REALLY write! More, please.
May 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Hmmm, a pinched fantasy with a limited vision.

The book has a humble scope - the lives of individuals in a small town on the Oregon coast - and promises a fun read, what with a talking crow, and various magical elements found throughout the story. But when three quarters into the book, I found myself thinking, "is this all there is? I'm wasting my time, really, there are many other fantasy reads that are rich and probing."

The story follows a cast of characters living along Mink River - an interes
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, small-press
Re-read in January 2016:

I loved this book when I first read it in 2013, and I loved it even more upon re-reading. This remains one of my favorite books, and one I'll come back to again and again - in the veins of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, River Teeth, and some of my other permanent favorites.

[Five stars for being one of the most perfect pieces of writing I've ever had the pleasure of reading.]

Review from April 2013:

I've fallen in love. No more than a few chapters into the library's copy, I told K
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Extraordinary. I was tumbled under the wild rushing prose, tumbled and cartwheeled and somersaulted through this book full of wondrous and outrageous people, this book full of words sinuous as snakes that would out of nowhere take off and soar like very myth itself.

Doyle's foray into fiction is not that far a leap from his past nonfiction- he's such a keen observer of humanity that his fictional people (even his fictional talking, thinking crow) are more real than some of the people I actually k
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished-in-2017
Review and excerpt from this poetic and episodic novel are now posted here:
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you're going to visit the Oregon Coast, you must read this novel. So good - like, Sherman Alexie good.

I was hooked by page 16, by the sly humor and the descriptions of the natural world and the residents of the fictional town. The two employees of Neawanaka's Public Works Department discuss their jobs:

"Billy, he says quietly. Billy. We heal things. That's what we do. That's why we're here. We've always agreed on that. Right from the start. We do as well as we can. We fail a lot but we keep af
Ginger Bensman
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brian Doyle has captured the wild rain-drenched soul of the Oregon Coast in this rambling story about a small coastal town called Neawanaka. Laced with sensibilities of Native American lore and Irish poetry, and more than a touch of blarney, I’ve never read anything quite like it. The characters (an absolute multitude, and not just the human kind) are fresh and engaging—consider a talking crow named Moses, and a public works department run by the wisest of men, Worried Man and Cedar. It took me ...more
Sara Young
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is profound and beautiful and just a joy to read. I am in awe of Brian Doyle and look forward to reading all of his others. Read this. You will not be disappointed.
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Doyle's essays and poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The American Scholar, Orion, Commonweal, and The Georgia Review, among other magazines and journals, and in The Times of London, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Kansas City Star, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Ottawa Citizen, and Newsday, among other newspapers. He was a book reviewer for The Oregonian and a contributing es ...more

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